Recently TCI has seen an increase in mystery shopping scams. We want you to be aware of the scams and learn how to protect yourself. Scammers will fraudulently say they work for a mystery shopping company in order to trick you into sharing personal information. As we get closer to the holiday season, and people are interested in earning extra income, these scams become even more widespread.

HOW TO IDENTIFY THE SCAM:

The scam can begin by you receiving an unsolicited email (often referred to as phishing) that “looks” legitimate, and may even include the TCI logo, but will often contain glaring grammatical errors or missing words. The email address is from an AOL, Gmail, Yahoo, or other non-corporate email address. All of our official mystery shopping opportunities are emailed from Communications@trocglobal.com.

Be very suspicious if you are sent a large “check” in advance of performing a “mystery shop” with the instructions to deposit the “check” in your personal bank account. The scammer will then tell you to keep a fee but wire the remaining balance to the sender. The check will bounce, and you will be out whatever money you wired to the fake company. TCI does not issue paper checks; we disburse payments through PayPal or WorkMarket. We will never ask you to cash a check in order to purchase products, goods, services or gift cards.

Never agree to pay a fee to register for mystery shopping opportunities and never provide personal information. These fake companies promise to find you the best, highest-paying, fun jobs in your area — for a fee. Big red flag! TCI and all legitimate mystery shopping firms will never ask for personal information via email, and will never ask for money from a shopper to become “certified” or get a list of mystery shopping opportunities. For additional information, see Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA).

WHAT TO DO

If you suspect you’ve received an email from a fraudulent company, or been a victim of a mystery shopping scam, here’s what you can do:

Forward any suspicious mystery shopping email to us at Communications@trocglobal.com and provide us with as much information about the person or persons involved, so we can help stop the scammers. We have been actively filing police reports on any incidents that come to our attention.

Contact your local police department, and file a police report with the Cyber Crimes unit

Tell your state Attorney General

Alert the Federal Trade Commission

Call the AARP Fraud Watch Helpline at 877-908-3360

Use the BBB Scam Tracking Tool

Remember, always be skeptical when you are asked to wire money in any business transaction. Unlike credit card payments where you can get fraudulent payments erased or sending a check that you can stop payment on, wired funds are irretrievable from the moment they are sent.